Partisans Until the End of Time: Town Cemetery Separated by Political Parties
In the town of Carlock, Illinois there’s a pair of cemeteries dating back to 1850. What makes these burial grounds so unique, for decades they were divided by political party. Democrats went to the Carlock cemetery; Republicans went to the Benson cemetery. This all began with Abraham Carlock, who wanted nothing more than to be remembered as Democrat.
His biggest adversary John Benson soon created his own cemetery less than a mile from Carlock’s Democratic cemetery. Coincidently John Benson’s tombstone stands noticeably taller.
“It’s made out of better materials, its marble. Carlock’s stone was actually made by sort of the Walmart of the cemetery makers,” says Nola Marquardt, a volunteer historian near Carlock, Illinois.
No one’s been buried in the Republican Cemetery for nearly 30 years, and while Benson may have the bigger tombstone, Abraham Carlock’s cemetery is much bigger, and still growing because they’re still burying people there.
“Well I think there are probably 250-300 people buried here, and probably 500 in the Carlock Cemetery.,“ says Marquardt.
More than a century and half later both cemetery’s still get lots of visitors, many of whom have no connection to the Carlock or Benson families.
“Paul Harvey actually ran the story of these two cemetery’s as one of his feature stories. Right after that there was much more interest in the cemeteries,” says Marquardt.
Today politics is just as bitter as it’s ever been, but the people of Carlock, Illinois say if they can set their differences aside, then so can the politicians.
”I may end up in a place called Centennial Church Cemetery. You want no part of this? I want no part of this,” says Preston Hawks of Carlock, Illinois.
“You have a bunch of family here. Are you guys Democrats? No, I’m a Republican, and I’m chairman of the board. That tell you anything?” says John Kath, chairman of the board which oversees Carlock’s Democratic Cemetary.
John Kath’s the man in charge of the Democratic Cemetery, and ironically he’s a Republican. He’s got plenty of relatives buried here, and someday he says he’ll join them. He’s not alone either. It seems over the years SOME members of Carlock and the Benson families, for reasons unknown, have put aside their differences, lying at rest next to their parents biggest adversaries.
“Don’t know if they actually jumped the fence politically, or had some beef with members of the family, I don’t know,” says Marquardt.
Regardless the reason, seeing that Carlock’s and Bensen’s lie next to each other for eternity is reason enough to hold out hope for the current generation of politicians.
“Now you know the rest of the story,” jokes Marquardt.